Desert Journals in Catharsis I

by Imoh


During two years of celibacy: no rubbing, no hugging, and no loving. I was holding out for that special one; the one who would make my heart sing in the key of love. Corny I know, but itís the truth. Celibacy was the choice, as result of my guilt. I felt that I needed to purge my soul of all the impurities and bullshit I had allowed. That last year and a half of college, I was trippiní. No I was self-destructing in a big way. Looking back I donít know how I was able to look at myself in the mirror. It was as if I was on another planet, a planet of sluts and haze, smoke and decadence, laughter and forgetting. Pleasures of the flesh were the sole purpose of existing between 11pm and 1am. Men did it. Why couldnít I? Young, single, childless, and free and unfettered by the austere presence of the parental units. Free from expectations, I took that headlong plunge into adulthood. Making decisions and choices without a care for the consequences. It took a real foul night of debauchery on college graduation night to finally wake up, wake up from the cloud of weed smoke and cheap wine. Wake up from the lie, the lie I was telling myself. Then the shame and guilt set in. Bouts of bitter weeping and praying and confessing and begging and weeping and self-hatred and self-deprecation filled many lonely nights. Then there were the questions. Why? How could you? Immediately after that followed the painful replays of the past encounters. Those elusive regenerated replays that regretfully failed to regurgitate themselves and fell missing before the times the actual deeds were committed. Amazing grace indeed. I was blind. But now I could see. It was as if I had a new pair of eyes. The truth jumped up and smacked the hell out of me. And left me in a daze of confusion, pain, and almost unbearable shame. I ate guilt for dinner. And swallowed its aftertaste with a mournful gulp. The truth, naked and staring me in the face was brutal and unflinching in its dealings with me. The voices deep within occupied my consciousness.

You behaved as slut or a whore, you let them have their way with you.

Well these college boys did it and were called Ďplayas and pimpsí yet Iím called Ďslut, ho, etc.,. Is that fair? I was only asserting myself and unconcerned with the double standard gender idioms that a woman canít or shouldnít come to terms with her sexuality and desires, have her way with men, use them and then lose them, no strings, not interested in you, just purely physical. Why is it so accepted when they do it? Hypocrites! Double talk is that is spoken. I would not allow myself to be restricted by someone elseís hang-ups! Men they make up the rules and then break them as they see fit. Well two can play at that game. I can love em and leave em. Well I proved that women donít always think with their hearts. Having a heart makes women stupid. Having a dick makes them more so. They are the sexual ones. They put it off on us women, that we are the sexual objects. But show me a man who doesnít think about sex constantly? For considerable lengths of time a woman can abstain from sex. A woman will live at the urgings of her heart and men at the urgings of their depravity. Men are the base creatures. They are the sexual objects. I was expressing and asserting my choice in a feminist rebellion against the established order that says I have to be a certain way because I lack an appendage between my legs. Morality interpreted differently for some than for others? Thatís oppression!

You were masking your pain and lying to yourself. You put a price on your tail and you sold yourself short. Listen to your guilt and shame pulling your insides. When your conscience replays those erstwhile exploits, 16 months of self-abasement, indulgence, and self-defilement. What do you feel, embarrassment, self-hatred or shame? What you did does not alter the truth and beauty that is you. Shame on you for not seeing the beauty that is you. You depleted your spirit. You damaged yourself, but Thank God not beyond repair and healing. Wear that scar and learn. Thank God for everyday you are healthy and physically unscathed and count on the Spirit to make you whole again.

After the self-hatred and the shame, the process of healing began. I became closer to God through those mistakes. I read the bible more. I prayed more. I spoke less and listened more. And though I knew I hadnít figured it all out, I was on that journey of discovery. Then it was that I decided to regain control and responsibility.

The next man I have sex with will be my husband.

Now I was not disillusioned. I knew that in todayís world meeting a man and marrying him without giving 'it' up until the wedding night was going to be a tall order. But what that declaration symbolised for me was that I was not going to lay down with a man unless I knew. He was the one. The special one my heart yearned for, my soul brother for life.

Then in December of 1998, I thought I had met such a man. It wasnít love at first site though. Not to brag but he was sweating me pretty hard. He was this tall sinewy handsome Nigerian fellow with a big head. He was in his early thirties, and I in my early twenties. He had this naÔvetť about him. Sweet eyes that seemed to search my spirit. He said loved my frank and candid wit. He revelled in my earthly no-frills beauty. He loved my locs, which I had to scold him for calling them dreadlocks. He loved my spunk and fire. I was skeptical but I gave him a second look. I was visiting my parents in Oman that Christmas, and he took me around and introduced me to the breathtaking beauty of Omanís landscape. The starry nights, white beaches with towering mountains for the backdrop and expensive wines were taking effect, because one night we ended up in a pretty heavy kissing scene. Naked and yearning with desire, I found myself vulnerable and cried.

That old shame again.

The heaving kissing scene came to a halt. I told him about those sixteen months. His eyes spoke of the understanding and forgiveness that I could not even afford myself and that had alluded me for so long. I returned to the States still a born again virgin. When I left to return to my life, job, and friends in the states, Iíll admit I was still skeptical (what is his angle?), but open.

In March he came to visit me for three and half glorious weeks. It was bliss. I showed him my poetry. I told him things I never shared with anyone else. After almost two years (22 months) of celibacy, the drought was over. The thirst was quenched. Or so I thought. And I felt it, that sweet and sour pang. When he left to return to Oman, that sweet pain ached so much I thought my heart would jump out of my mouth and beat in a bloody pulp at my feet. I missed him so terribly. We would e-mail and call everyday.

I wrote some of my best love poetic verse over electronic waves lost in the vastness of the world wide web. He came back just for my birthday two months later. We spent another glorious two weeks together. I was in love, deep.

I asked him about his life, his childhood. He told me his mother and father divorced when he was 3, his sister was 2, and his brother was a baby. His mom went to the states, and he did not meet her again until he was 16 or 17. Until he was nine years old he lived with his grandparents. Then his father sent for them. His dad was not an easy man to get close to, and their relationship remained marred by distrust, criticism, little affection, and fear. His stepmotherís warmth was even more elusive. She never smiled and never nurtured her step-children with as much devotion as her own, as they would have 3 more children together. They moved to Glasgow when he was 10 and moved back to Nigeria when he was 13. He told me his mother and I share the same first name and that she was born on the same day I was. Coincidence!

I felt for him. No mother to love him, cuddle him, kiss his boo-boos. Growing up he clung to his sister and brother. He told me stories of his raucous adolescence in Nigeria. He was a player. Had lots of girlfriends. Did not treat them so nice. Aw, but he was young then! Immature stupid and unevolved. We all make mistakes. Now he was ready to settle down. We spoke of marriage and how we could not stand to be apart from one another. He left again. And again I felt like a piece of me had gone away. I never felt such joy and then such pain. It was then that I asked myself, "Why should I feel this way?". I love this man. We must be together. I knew it was sudden but I couldnít deny what I was feeling. My insides quaked with excitement every time I met him at the airport. I went to Oman in July and he proposed. My parents were surprised, wary, and apprehensive...

But you two hardly know each other! What is the hurry?

But love is love. What do we need to know?

I told him of my reservations about marrying a Nigerian. Although my parents were Nigerians, we had been raised in the states, all our lives, where women are more empowered. Yet I knew that in Nigeria women are still very much second class citizens and men are not scorned for Ďtouchingí their wives faces if they Ďstepped out of lineí. In Nigeria men are the kings and women are the graduated servants. Donít talk back, donít speak too loudly, donít second-guess, know your place. So I was worried and shared my apprehensions. I also told him that I didn't want to live in Nigeria. Would that create a problem? Oh but my king stepped up in proper form. He put to rest my fears. He told me he was not like that. Modern Man of Africa he was. That he is from a new generation of Nigerians. And although he loved his country he knew the harsh realities of life there and was no more interested in living there than I was. I was happier than a swine in filth.

After much reluctance, my parents acquiesced for the sake of my happiness and drank palm wine with my lover in Oman, sent invitations, and booked the hall in Oman. We were to go and have a justice of the peace marry us in the states and then return to Oman and have a formal wedding with white dress, and tux, and wine and dancing and my parents gazing teary eyed at their twenty-four year old all grown up. But when the time came in September to go to the justice of the peace, something did not sit right with me. I wanted something more than some anonymous and unconcerned judge saying, ďDo you? Do you? And I do, and I do.Ē So I arranged for a friend of mine, who was married to a pastor, to organise a small quiet but spiritual service. I wanted Godís blessing. For 2 years I had prayed for the one. And I did not put any restrictions on time. I wanted God to do it right as opposed to right now. I just knew he answered my prayers with this man. The ceremony was simple but powerful. My friend and both pastors spoke endless pearls of wisdom.

The emotional momentum of the occasion had me drunk. I really felt no need to have a second wedding. Why? I have not friends in Oman. Itís just to please my parents. And after all was not the wedding day for the bride and groom? Not them. My parents were notified by a cowardly e-mail delivery of our intentions. To say all hell broke loose would be an understatement. As I agonised over the pain I had caused my parents, days before we were to leave for Oman, I turned to my husband of not even two weeks, and told him that maybe we made a mistake. We should just go ahead with the initial plans to make them happy. After all they do deserve to see their first born walk down an aisle in a white dress, no matter how silly we think it all is.

My sweet-faced knight, the apple of my eye now turned into a cold-faced demon. He told me that I made a choice and that if I went against him that he would consider it a betrayal and that our marriage would suffer irretrievable damage and he would never forget. Well to say that I was stunned would not recapture my feeling. I was mortified. Here I was standing in a stark and practically empty apartment, selling off every one of my possessions. Resigning a career, leaving my friends, my life. I tried one more attempt in hopes that maybe reasoning would work.

But a few months ago you made and agreement with my parents to have this wedding in Oman for them. Is not what you are now trying to do, reneging on that previous promise? Darling, what is so bad about saying we made a mistake and moving on. I mean we donít want to have such strife at the beginning of such a young marriage.

He repeated his ominous threat, unmoved. Well! I could not have such a crisis in the first few weeks of my marriage. So I quickly acquiesced.

I will not go against you husband. We will stand firm. Us against the world.

When we arrived in Oman. My parents were putting on a brave face but I could still see the hurt. Oh, but they refused to give up. They campaigned like brave warriors.

How can you do this? We have already invited people from overseas. Invitations have been sent. Congratulations and Well Wishes received. Bookings made. Reception planned. You are our first daughter. We have dreamt of this for so long. Why would you deprive us of such a joy? You are breaking our hearts. To see our first born daughter walk down the aisle with her father hand in hand beaming with pride, that has been our dream for so long. Ö

Well needless to say two months of this campaigning made me melt with guilt and feeling for my family. I beseeched my husband to please give in for the sake of our young union. Things came to a head in November. My parents came over for dinner. After dinner they sternly but gently launched into their pleas for a wedding. It broke my heart to see them begging us to have a wedding. Begging later turned into indignance.

You two must have this wedding! We have invited relatives from Nigeria.

I turned to my husband and asked him to meet me in our bedroom. He followed me with his cold suspicious eyes. My eyes searched his for some light of compassion and cooperation. In a pleading tone I told him, honey we should just go through this wedding, we should just do it, itís breaking my heart being caught in the middle.

That sweet-faced man I knew that summer turned back into the demon.

You are making your choice and I hope you are prepared to live with the consequences.

Something stopped cold inside me, I shivered, and commenced breathing. Regaining some momentum, again I pleaded with him using reasoning.

They said they would pay for everything. All we have to do is show up. We donít need this stress at the beginning. I want you and my parents to be on a good foot. Please.

He repeated his ominous threat.

We returned to the dining room, where my prince my king announced that I have decided to go against him and that they should take me away until I learn how to cook. After all, that is the way it is done in Nigeria. I was witnessing his ugly side, the real side. After they left he refused to speak to me. I was hurt by his rejection. Being a new wife and generally a neophyte to the realm of adult male-female relationships I continued to try and talk to the man to get through to him. He wouldnít look at me.

He sat detached in front of me with hatred in his eyes and ignored my attempts at communication. So in order to get his attention I raised my voice and hurled the remote control against the wall. The little black object flew gallantly into the wall and crumbled into big pieces on the floor. His eyes and nostrils flared up in rage. I sensed danger. I had obviously crossed the line and now I was going to see how this Nigerian man rears an ugly head. He grabbed me and threw me out of the house.

I could go on but that wonít add or take away from the fact that reality of married life had kicked me in my naive ass.

I didnít like his friends, three in particular. One was a 34 year-old tomboy spinster that one might consider Ďbutchí. She had a crush on my husband, but that was of no concern to me. The other two were a couple, painfully boring and would not speak very much in my presence. There is more than a little truth to the assumption that Africans dislike and distrust Black Americans. Colonial/Slave minds exist on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nigerians were our social group. They were our social group, because they were his social group. There were a couple of them that I liked but I did not feel the need to socialise with entire contingent of Nigerians just because they were all of the same nationality as my husband and were in Oman working for Shell. I never did fit in. I felt like I was in a different world. I was different. I had locs (not to be confused with dreadlocks), I was young, I was a black American. But the environment was neither friendly nor open to people whom are different. So I remained a loner while in Oman.

I dreaded going to their parties and get togethers, choosing to grin and bear it. It all seemed so foreign to me. And I did not understand how their idea of a good time could be considered a good time. A typical Shell Nigerian Expatriate in Oman party consisted of food. Lots of it. You walk in and the men are all huddled together speaking obnoxiously loud in raucous ego competition. The women are of course together in the kitchen gossiping. Of course the talking ceased the minute I arrived. I did not know how to relate, and neither did they. So I used to just go out side. And sure enough the crowd that I could relate with better would soon follow, the children.

With children there is no pretence, guile, and suspicions. They are free. I endured this for the next few months and to my husbandís chagrin, we had the wedding in January. Meanwhile, my frustrations continued mounting. On top of the numerous growing pains in my marriage, I was actively seeking employment and every door was shutting in face. My only reason for getting out of bed was to make breakfast lunch and dinner for my husband. I gained 10 pounds. I had to share the car with my husband and made no friends with whom I could relate. A mild depression set in. I was desperately, longing for a purpose.

We honeymooned in Thailand for 5 days, Australia for 2 weeks, and Singapore for 3 days. I was buoyed by a new enthusiasm. A break from my domestic Ďblissí was sorely needed. Thailand was fun. But the honeymoon soon ended when we went to Australia to visit my husbandís brother. My brother-in-law was a quiet sneaky furtive kind of character. The minute I met him I knew that his reticence was not a result of timidity or shyness. He was scheming, manipulating, sizing me up. The wheels were turning and planning mischief. Needless to say he made me uncomfortable. But my husband's idol worship of him made me even more uncomfortable.

As it stood the two brothers had very much in common with respect to life goals and general outlook. They both hungered for money, being Ibo men, and spent at least 12 hours a day researching stocks and finding ways to be millionaires. This unfortunately did not make me a happy camper as I was beginning to feel lonely and neglected. I spent most of my time in Australia feeling "down under" than actually experiencing it. Being ignored by my husband and cooped up in his little brotherís small house. And when I say little, Iím not just referring to age. He was a very diminutive man. Shorter than me, and probably weighed less. I did not like him. But I pretended that I did. His eyes were sneaky and piercing and when he smiled I felt queasy inside. Both men did not have anything good to say about their father.

But days on end of being neglected by my husband took its toll. I developed a moody exterior and a glum countenance. We were in Australia and I had not seen the outback, nor Sydney, nor the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne, which was taking place the same time we were there. Both men noted my sour mood. My husband chose to give me one right back. The brother chose to capitalise and pit my husband against me. Which to my chagrin worked. They were like a tag team. Both taking turns being disappointed in me, snubbing and ignoring me.

That was painful. I never really got over that betrayal. It came to a head when my husband told me that his brother was annoyed by my behaviour and then told me that his brother compared me to his girlfriend and she won. This smiley-faced-non-personality-having, artless non-entity of a white girl, who lacked even one brain cell to rub together with another. I was so hurt. Yet in order to restore myself in my husband's eyes, I apologised, and of course his brother comes off looking like the saint because he accepted. From then on I hated the little manipulative bastard. You never try and come between a man and his wife. And a man should never entertain anyone who speaks ill of his spouse. Never. In this case, both laws against nature were breached.

I returned from my so-called honeymoon hurt and bewildered. The next few months left me even more frustrated. On top of being married to a food critic, as in his eyes I remained a failure at cooking three perfectly prepared meals per day, I still had not found any reason to get out of bed outside of attempting to prepare them. My husband was not that patient either. He knew I couldn't cook when he met me, but he never appreciated my efforts for trying to learn. My job search in the Middle East still proved futile. The Indians were accepting peanuts for pay as 200 Omani Rials isnít squat in America but in India it spells bucket loads of rupees. On top of that Muscat was like a big village. The job market wasnít exactly booming. And my husband was not very supportive. He acted like he was almost offended when I considered looking for a job.

But I had a damn job when we met?

I was angry. Angry because my married life was not living up to my expectations. I was angry because I was made to feel like a failure for not knowing how to cook to culinary perfection, for not being able to fit in with my husband's friends, and for not finding the remedy for the rut within I almost always found myself. Failure taunted me and accused me as its mistress. Before long the demons of doubt began to resurface.

Fool! How could you be so impetuous? You married this man on impulse in some rash and foolhardy expression of lust that you catapulted to the plane of love! Look at you now. Your friends back home are completing graduate school, excelling in fulfilling careers, tackling real life responsibilities, free and self-assured. What are you doing? Nothing. You are worthless. What difference would it make if you were dead? You have one task: housewife. Cook, clean, and keep a nice happy home. Kiss your man when he comes home from work with enthusiasm. Rub his feet. Ask him how his day went? Grin and smile and scramble to satisfy his friends with Nigerian delicacies. Speak when spoken to. And when spoken to speak pidgin English. Understand them. They don't have to understand you. He doesn't have to understand you. Be strong when he wants. Be weak when he wants. This is not rocket science? One job. Housewife. And you are failing miserably. You can't even cook, according to your husband, because he criticises every aspect of the meals you prepare, no matter how minuscule. What makes you think you could make it out in the real world, if you can't even cook a measly meal!

Well one hot middle eastern night in late April all the little bickering and joblessness, and domestic frustrations, and feelings of inadequacy came to a tumultuous head. I found an e-mail from one of his exís. I was pissed off that someone he had sex with in the past was still e-mailing him. She wrote this real cheeky e-mail. So howís the married thing? I wanted to rip through the e-waves and strangle her little throat. And after that I would strangle his. I went to the liquor cabinet, opened a bottle of red wine and imbibed ĺ of it. I came back in the house ready to start some shit. Words were exchanged. The energy became heated and disturbing. To make a long story short he struck me in my face. As I lay on the floor I watched the blood seep slowly and drip from my nostril and splash to the floor. The rage boiled in slow motion. Growing up, my father was a strict disciplinarian, yet up until that point no human being had ever struck me in my face. Enraged, I picked myself up and summoned him banging clumsily on the bedroom door. I was so drunk. More words were exchange. Still smarting from the fact that I had been struck in my face for the first time in my life I proceed to smash everything breakable object in the house. Pictures, video cassettes, memorabilia. As the blood continued to trickle from my nose and into my mouth I spat the mixture of spit, sweat, blood, and tears on him as he attempted and failed to grab me to give me another dose.

It was almost 2 A.M. He phoned my parents. Not before I tore the first 3 pages of his passport. I could have ripped it to shreds, but something stopped me. My parents arrived. I was too drunk to be horrified at that fact that my parents were seeing me in this state. He wouldnít let me back in the house for a month. In that month he went to Holland, Canada, and the States. In that month I felt the lowest I had felt in my life. Guilt and shame came back to welcome me into their treacherous arms, kissing my tears and relishing in my sorrow. Yet something in me beckoned. I wanted to save my marriage. I begged pleaded grovelled cried fasted prayed begged pleaded grovelled cried fasted and prayed again. And again. And again. I told him itís all my fault. I am a wretch. I am to blame. I thought that I had to accept 100% of the blame if I was to get my marriage back.

Well I guess it worked. After one month he came back and his butch woman friend gave me back the keys to my house and my car, only after she checked with him first, right in front of me, with a call to Canada. More humiliation. But I deserved it right? I was to blame. My husband was blameless. Right.

Well through the next few months I served as support and cheerleader for my husband as he went through the treacherous sea called the white man's corporate world. I read Psalm 37 to him when his boss tried nefariously to block his career progression, I cheered him on as he made accomplishments in the career arena. I prayed with and for him about getting the job with the company he wanted to work for and for God to lead us to the right opportunity (as long as it did not mean going back to Nigeria).

In December 2000 we moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates where he would embark on a new phase of his career. Dubai the big city in the Middle East was cosmopolitan and through its sky scraping landscapes shadowing the flat sun scorched desert plains, promised of new opportunities and new beginnings professionally and for our marriage. Earlier that year I had visited the states and stopped over in Hartford, Connecticut to visit his sister. His natural mother was also visiting, and unfortunately so was his brother. He was nasty to me. Not speaking to me. Doing his best cold shoulder. When I told my husband of this he of course did not believe me and took sides against me. More betrayal. But I tried to convince myself to get over that. This was a new beginning and we would prove all those naysayers (including his jealous asshole of a brother) wrong.

Well by March I had made many new friends, landed a decent job, and things seemed to sail along for the most part. Then one night in mid April, I went out with two married girlfriends. My husband who before in Oman went out with his friends and came home whenever he felt like, be it 11pm or 1am, advised that my curfew was 11pm. I was shocked and appalled and so were my comrades when they were apprised that I had to be brought back by 11pm.

Well you know how it is when the girls are out. We were creek-side in Dubai. The weather was delicious. The crisp winter middle eastern night air kissed the white wine bubbling inside and made the atmosphere even more intoxicating. The wine was flowing generously and so was the conversation. I was having too much fun. The live band blocked out his call at 10:30pm. I called him at 10:50pm. I told him that I was really having such a nice time and that I would like to stay a little longer. I thought that my c heerful mood would make him happy and inspire him to let loose the chain. The cold demon made another appearance.

No.

But honey, I never hassle you about coming home. I just encourage you to have a nice time. Why should it be different in this instance?

Do you have balls?

Excuse me?

Do you have balls. I have balls. I am the man.

But...

If you donít get in this house in 20 minutes I am locking you out.

Well prior experience of being evicted from my house with numerous threats of eviction, I knew he wasnít bluffing. So I calmly hung up, drank my wine, said my goodbyes and farewells to my comrades, and hailed a taxi. I arrived 7 minutes late at 11:27pm to locked doors.

He refused to open the doors until 12:30am, after many phone calls and doorbell rings. During that seemingly interminable one hour of waiting in my car and on the steps, I just cried. One and half years of feeling useless unimportant and insignificant, joblessness and sacrifice, and I just wept.

This is my husband?

You didnít know him. You married too quickly.

I know. I know.

I slept on the couch for many nights. I couldnít stand being in his presence. What kind of man is this? No discussion nothing. He hung out with his friends and came home when he felt like. I never hassled him despite the fact I did not have friends in Oman, despite the fact that I was always home, despite the fact that I missed him during those lonely days. But when he longed for the company of his male friends, I understood.

So? Iím a man. Do you have balls? This is my house...What I say goes. I will soften you. You are disobedient... You never listen. You are rebellious... You need to learn how to be under a man... You have no respect for me. The bible says the wife must submit.

Does it not also say that men should love their wives?

I was never the same again. We were never the same again. All that modern man of African talk before was insincere rubbish, and in a word...bullshit. He never wanted a partnership. He mentioned the bible says to submit. But why do men stop there? Does it not say men should love their wives as Christ loved the church? Christ died for the church. He wanted to force me into submission. (Submission by force is not submission.) You must obey. You answer to me. Lock me out. Shut me down. But all he had to do was love me. That is how people submit, through love. That is how people soften through love. Our marriage was never the same.

We just went through the motions. Barely made love. Barely spoke. It pained me, his detachment. I cried and when I was not weeping I prayed. He could be so cold. I was never that good at it. Did not have what it took for cruelty. Did not possess the stamina to maintain that cold, emotionless exterior for extended periods of time like he could. I guess thatís where his brother learned to do it so well and IĎm sure they learned it from their father.

I would occasionally ask him if he had ever resented his mother for not being around when they were young. He always evaded or denied any resentment. Twenty months of marriage he refused to tell me about the circumstances surrounding his parents' break up and subsequent divorce all those years ago. I felt as if I was missing a big piece of the puzzle.

He also refused marriage professional counselling so I beseeched the council of married people, married men, my pastor in the states. They all proffered sage advice. I asked one married friend of mine to speak with him so my husband could get some man to man advice from a Christian married man. My parents were married for over 25 years. I saw that through them marriage is hard work but the payoff is grand if you were willing to grow and work through the ups and the inevitable downs that come with life.

Again I asked my husband if he would go with me for counselling. He refused. I begged him to help me, for I felt I was to carry the burden of improving and maintaining the marriage all alone. He withdrew even farther. Seeking counsel from his jaded bachelor of a brother who hated me, and with his bizarre and obsessive hold on my husband was seen as a god in my husbandís eyes.

By late May I did not know what else to do. I went to visit my parents in Oman. My mother told me that one Nigerian lady I did not know socially or otherwise, had a vision about me. When I returned to Dubai, I called this woman. She did not even bother to engage in small talk.

You have been weeping and crying about your marriage and over your husband. Pray for your marriage in faith that God will make a change. Pray for your husband to change. Pray everyday for God to change him. And God will turn your tears into joy.

I was so relieved. Finally merciful acknowledgement that God heard my prayers. So I heeded the ladyís vision. Earnestly I prayed for my husband to change. I prayed for my marriage. Nothing. Two weeks later my husbandís father and stepmother arrive and I meet them for the first time.

One week earlier my husband had informed me that he wanted to separate for six months. That I should move out. I couldnít even count the number of times my husband brought up quitting the marriage when things got tough, and I always remained steadfast and defiant.

NO! We must fight to save our marriage. We must do better.

However, this time I was weary and acquiesced. So when these people referred to as parents arrived I was fully aware of the impending breakdown of our marriage. But there was still that glimmer of hope that maybe things would turn around. God would save us. These people came to my house and I sensed trouble They were poor. His father was an Ibo man, a doctor, and did not even own his own home. An Ibo man in his sixties, and he and his family lived a little apartment flat. A few months before they were facing certain eviction. I asked my husband to house them in the house he built in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

First impressions: cold. No smile no hugs for me. Just coldness. It was awkward. They declared my home their domain. The stepmother would just walk into my bedroom without knocking. The father would proceed to finish all of our vodka, gin, and rum in less than four days. He was fat, almost obese. And they consumed food as avariciously as hungry cannibal shipwrecked survivors, who had not eaten in weeks. I was very uncomfortable. But I tried to make the most it. I would come home from work. Fix them dinner and take my husbandís step mom to the gold souk. Wake up early fix breakfast. And do it all over again.

My parents were eager to meet these bush people. They rearranged their travel plans to drive the 5 hours to Dubai and fly to the states from Dubai instead of Oman. The day came when they arrived. I was so happy. Finally friendly faces. That night I cooked. Everyone was laughing and it was so pleasant. After dinner my parents presented my husbandís people with gifts. They smiled and cheerfully accepted the gifts.

And then the ambush began.

The father drunkenly gets up to make a speech. The conversation takes a treacherous turn. He asks me how I feel about the marriage and would I do it again. I was stunned by the obnoxious and prying question. I hesitated and stuttered then recovered. I responded politely.

We have had our share of problems, but I am determined to stick it out. It has been challenging but we are working through it.

The same question was posed to my husband. He did not hesitate.

I hate being married to this woman! I have been miserable since day one. If marriage is like this I donít ever want to get married. She spat on me during a fight. We only have sex once in 6 weeksÖ..

The rest was a blur. I was dazed.

The father gets up and staggers (2 full glasses of gin later) and condemns me and declares this marriage a sham and declares that he does not recognise the marriage. And that if my husband continued to stay married to me that he will leave this house immediately. My husband, now my traitor, said it will never happen Dad. I want nothing more to do with this woman.

Reliving every detail of that night brings to mind more pain than I can bear. This man who I sold my possessions for, betrayed me, deceived me, ambushed me, and rejected me. He humiliated me in front of my parents. And allowed his parents to force me out of my home because as his father put it,ĎÖ leaving her alone in the house with us, I fear her psychological state after you people leave (my parents) because, I wouldnít want a felony to be committed.'

I was looking at three demons in my house. His step-mother who had participated in this plot, his drunken father, and my husband, the turncoat traitor. The liar. Monsters. Beasts. I felt the presence of evil and the next day, I took my parents, packed my things, and I left that house. The next week my husband was beseeching his parents to find a new wife in Nigeria for him. My replacement.

Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Flip the script and the undying love and devotion you once felt can turn to equally intense hatred. I hated that step monster. A woman who raised my husband from the time he was ten years old, and whom he could not even call mother, but instead called her 'auntie'. I hated that drunk, mean, bastard of a father. I hated that cruel deceitful jealous brother who probably helped plan the whole debacle. And last but not least I hated my Brutus, my Judas, my so-called husband. The man I let enter my womb, my soul, and my deepest thoughts countless times. The man who lay in the same bed with me. The man who shared a bathroom with me. The ringleader and mastermind. Coward and thief! Lowlife and scum of the wretched earth. Rogue. Sabotaged his own marriage. That was my house. I put everything in it. I arranged it. I made it our home. How could you?

Betrayal is a bitter pill. They are right. The devil uses those closest to you. I didnít see this one coming.

After everyone went to bed I could not sleep. I went to that bedroom. He was pretending to sleep. Playing along, I woke him up. I told him that he has to do right by me as far as the divorce settlement. After all, I was the one who had to suffer the greatest inconvenience. I had to relocate to the states and begin again.

Suddenly a change in demeanor from cold cruel demon to vulnerability and remorse.

I really like you. I hope that I can call you because I will be really down from this. I will never marry again. I donít think I can ever be with another woman for a long time. This is a disaster. This is terrible. I thought it would be like the movies. Donít worry I will take care of you, you donít have to worry. But Iím low on cash because I lost most of our savings in the stock options market.

Lies, lies, and more lies.

Well that spell of decency and remorse wore off. The days following that horrific night he became increasingly combative and cruel. In the end I only received $10,000. I decided to file in the UAE to avoid costly lawyering and lengthy divorce proceedings in the U.S. Because getting a lying, deceitful, self deceiving, cowardly, piece of shit husband to pay half of what heís worth through Trans global communication from my attorney (who's billing by the hour) in the states to his did present itself as a viable option for me. So that was the price I paid for my sanity.

But weeks later I was still plagued. How could he do this? If he wanted out why did he have to go this hurtful and malicious route? He must have really hated me. But why did he not just tell me how he felt? Why would he not just tell me he wants out face to face, alone in the confines of our home? How could I be so stupid and marry this monster? My self esteem and self-confidence took a plunge. So the marriage wasnít going well. Misunderstandings, miscommunications. Why this? This is the type of malicious stunt you pull on a woman caught sleeping with another man or plotting with enemies to bring harm or ruin. I remained bewildered and befuddled by the whole situation. And to add insult to injury he began spreading lies to mutual friends and strangers alike, about what a horrible woman I am. He is devoid of any common decency. I hated him. I was plagued by hatred and thoughts of revenge. I know that through the bad, God will make a way of good. But Iím at a loss for what that is exactly. Iím at a loss. I just keep praying for peace and the ability to forgive. Because hating them only hurts me. But it is a daily struggle.

You see I showed him that deep part of myself, that know one knows. Not even my family. And he rejected me. He not only rejected me he saw fit to humiliate me. To destroy me. When someone you love hurts you, you just want to crawl in a hole and just die. You want to erase time and her cruel memory. You want to turn back the clock and tear out the pages of the painful chapters. There are no words to describe betrayal. Ití s like someone summons you and begs you to tell them that deep soft vulnerable secret that is you and not only rejects you but tells everyone with mocking laughter and pointed fingers what a wretch and fool you are. Sometimes you start to believe it. The pain reaches down inside and rocks you to the core. I am consumed to the depths of this betrayal, and the anguish keeps me up at night. My appetite has waned. I feel damaged beyond repair.

All I have to count on is God. Because in the changing tides called my emotions the dependable Rock of the Divine is my only strength. I pray for forgiveness to touch my heart so I can release the bitterness and anger and hatred. As I begin to feel stronger and more self assured that God will avenge, defend, and protect me, the way will become clearer. But just as assurance and strength and peace arrive; doubt, fear, and anger introduce themselves into my awareness. And I want to scream.

I HATE YOU! SON OF BITCH! YOU MEAN CRUEL LIAR AND COWARD. YOU PITIFUL EXCUSE OF A MAN. YOU WRETCH. YOU SCOUNDREL. YOU BASTARD. YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE. I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU. I WISH YOU WOULD DIE A PAINFUL DEATH! I WANT TO SEE YOU SUFFER. YOU HURT ME!

You hurt me. Why did you do this to me? How could you do this? Why? Why?

Did I deserve this?

The answers may never come. They might come next year or next month. But never mind that. I must desperately and consistently seek and understand my Lordís face. Forgiveness is imperative to my survival and growth.


Desert Journals in Catharsis I by Imoh

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.



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